It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are right around the corner! And when it comes to holiday shopping, there are two types of people—those who are done by November 1st and those who don’t start until December 24th. If that’s your jam, this is not the year to wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping. Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s shopping season and why you need to start holiday shopping today.
Why you need to start holiday shopping today
Supply Chain Issues
I’m one of those people who starts shopping as early as August. I start early because I don’t like the feeling of anxiety that comes with wandering around a mall trying to finish my shopping the night before Christmas. This year that habit will come in handy as global supply chain issues are wreaking havoc on the shipment and inventory of products from toys to toilet paper. Add worker shortages and transportation delays to the mix, and you might find yourself scrambling to get everything on your list.
Demand is up
Despite rising prices, retail spending is up. People are buying more and spending more. Part of this is attributed to pandemic woes lessening and a desire to return to “normal”. Plus, Hanukkah is really early this year, starting a month before Christmas. That means more people will start shopping earlier, which can also lead to less available inventory.
How to make sure you get everything on your list
Make a plan
The more time you have to shop, the more likely you are to save money and find everything you are looking for. But first, you need a plan. Make a list of all the items you plan to buy, then search online to see who has them in stock. Next, compare prices. Some stores like Target are price matching. From now to December 24th you can receive a price adjustment for any item purchased online or in-store that goes on sale for a lower price. Check here for other retailer price matching policies.
Then, create a holiday budget. This will keep you from overspending and rolling into the new year with more debt. And don’t forget to include a line item for things like shipping, wrapping paper, and batteries. Especially if you plan to buy a lot of toys as they all seem to need at least two batteries!
Lastly, decide how you will pay for what you buy. You are more likely to stay on track if you use cash, but who carries cash anymore? I usually use my debit card since it’s the closest thing to cash. But if you plan to use a credit card, try to use one that give you points for money spent or has a cash back feature so that you are rewarded for your purchases.
If you procrastinate this year, you might actually miss the best sales. Black Friday sales have already started at Target and Amazon, with Walmart beginning on November 3rd. As you shop, keep in mind that waiting for trendy or specific items to go on sale could cause you to miss out. Especially when it comes to toys, as some of the hottest holiday toys are already selling out.
If you plan to shop online, make sure you buy from reputable sites that you trust to avoid potential fraud. And be sure to take advantage of free shipping and ship-to-store to save a few dollars.
Gifting secondhand items (not to be confused with regifting) is a great way to save money, find rare items, and reduce your carbon footprint. Try online shops like Poshmark, ThredUp, and The RealReal to find luxury and designer pre-owned items. And check your local consignment and vintage shops for unique finds that you can’t get anywhere else.
There is no better time to support a small business. The pandemic has caused thousands of businesses to close, and many of them won’t reopen. They are essential to the community and the economy. Besides offering unique and innovative products and services, when you shop at small this holiday season you will help keep them on the path to recovery.
If you can’t bear holiday shopping at all, make it easy on yourself and buy digital gifts. Here are a few thoughtful digital gift ideas…
- Streaming service memberships
- A class from MasterClass
- A personalized video from professional athletes, actors, artists, and other celebrities from Cameo
- Gift cards from their favorite restaurants, retailers, gaming sites and more.
Subscription boxes and special deliveries
- Kiwi Box and CodeSpark Academy are perfect for kids of various ages.
- Goldbelly will send your favorite food and treats from restaurants across the country.
- Listen to books, podcasts, and more with an Audible subscription.
- Choose a subscription from dozens of digital magazines and news publications.
- Make a donation to their favorite charity in their name.
- Send a meal delivery kit like HelloFresh or Blue Apron with all the ingredients and simple directions to prepare a gourmet meal.
- A beauty or makeup subscription from Ipsy or Birchbox for a bit of pampering and self-care.
I just donated about 10 bags and 5 boxes to charity. The last thing I want to do is replace them with more stuff. A friend recently mentioned that she had already bought about 10 gifts for her child but felt like she still needed to get more. Not that he asked for anything else, but because she felt like it wasn’t enough. I had to remind her that mindset was about her and not about him. And that he has everything he needs and wants, and that is enough. Don’t feel pressured to have a bunch of gifts under the tree. If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that the best gift is being able to spend quality time with your family and friends.
Holiday shipping deadlines
Here’s a list of the holiday shipping deadlines for major delivery services for the 2021 season. These are the latest dates to ship by if you want your gifts to arrive by December 25th.
UPS Ground: Check the UPS website
UPS 3 Day Select: December 21st
UPS 2nd Day Air: December 22nd
UPS Next Day Air: December 23rd
FedEx Ground/Home Delivery: December 15th
FedEx Express Saver: December 21st
FedEx 2Day: December 22nd
FedEx Overnight: December 23rd
USPS Retail Ground: December 15th
USPS First-Class Mail: December 17th
USPS Priority Mail: December 18th
USPS Priority Mail Express: December 23rd
And before I go, I have one more tip. Make sure you buy one or two generic gifts in case someone unexpectedly gives you a gift or shows up at your holiday gathering. Now that you have all the details about why you need to start holiday shopping today make your list and get started!